Oct 17, 2015

Colligation and a bottom-up approach to grammar

Summary of Hugh Dellar's IATEFL webinar Following the patterns: colligation and the necessity of a bottom-up approach to grammar - September 2015

For most people, the Lexical Approach is about focusing more on vocabulary in general and collocations in particular. Personally, however, I have always thought that the crux of the Lexical Approach is a different approach to teaching grammar. Lewis himself acknowledges that the Lexical approach “means giving attention to a much wider range of patterns which surround individual words […] In this respect, it is a more ‘grammatical’ approach than the traditional structural syllabus“ (2000:149-150, author’s emphasis).

Oct 1, 2015

The return of translation: opportunities and pitfalls

For most of the 20th century, there was a deep-rooted tradition in the ELT, which dates back to the Direct Method, that L1 in the classroom should be avoided at all costs. Although there were some alternative methods, such as Community Language learning (aka ‘counsel-learning’) and Dodson’s Bilingual Method, which made use of the learners’ L1 and used translation, most ELT methods of the last century were clearly ‘target-language’ only and some even went as far as to take a clearly anti-L1 stance in order to avoid interference.

Aug 8, 2015

8 things I've learned about Special Education Needs this summer

Public Domain image
Last week I was involved in another Train the Trainer course (Summer School) organised by the British Council in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Israel. The focus was Special Education Needs, and I had the privilege to work together with top expert in the field, Aharona Gvaryahu, MOE National Counselor for Students with Learning Difficulties, who was my co-trainer. While my role was sharing my knowledge and experience in designing and delivering teacher training workshops, my co-trainer as well as the participants of the course were a source of number of interesting insights into Special education, which I would like to share below:

May 26, 2015

Lexical activities united

This is a quick post that consolidates some activities for teaching collocations and chunks that I’ve posted on this blog and elsewhere, specifically the ones organized in series which I refer to as Cycles. 

I’ve demonstrated most of these at various conferences, most prominently at the IATEFL conference in Glasgow in 2012, but video recordings of the sessions have been taken down while the IATEFL Online website is being revamped. So I pulled all the activities together into one table for the convenience of the teachers and student teachers I work with as well as visitors to this blog.

I hope it makes it easy to navigate and find the activity that you’re after:

Apr 11, 2015

AAAL2015 convention: highlights, insights and implications

Rod Ellis presenting
While in Toronto for TESOL 2015 convention last month, I also attended - for the first time - the AAAL (American Association of Applied Linguistics) 2015 conference. The annual AAAL conference is conveniently held right before TESOL which gives ELT professionals travelling from all corners of the world an opportunity to attend both events back to back: the more classroom-oriented TESOL and its more highbrow cousin AAAL.

Here are some highlights:

Mar 22, 2015

A matter of semantics: same concepts, different divisions

Eighteen containers in assorted shapes and sizes on display in the corner of the room.

Fourteen EFL teachers organized in small groups according to their L1: English, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, French.

Aim: categorise the objects; discussion in the group should be held in your L1

Purpose: to show that the same objects will fall into different categories depending on the language you use to categorise them. 

Jan 4, 2015

News quiz 2014 - Follow up

Activities for reviewing language (vocabulary and some grammar) from News Quiz 2014

Image by DLR  via Wikimedia Commons
[CC BY 3.0 de]
As a follow-up to last week's news quiz, here are seven pages' worth of vocabulary practice and review activities (in 2 levels). Some follow "traditional" format from previous years, others are new, for example, the Intermediate level activities include Netspeak, a web tool I blogged about HERE.

I hope you and students enjoy them as much as you enjoyed the quiz. If you still haven't seen this quiz, click HERE:

Dec 28, 2014

News quiz 2014

Traditional lexically-enriched end-of-year news quiz for the first lesson of the new year
By Anthony Quintano via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

In keeping with the tradition started when this blog was born (4 years ago today), here is my end-of-year news quiz.  As usual, it's available in two levels (advanced and intermediate) and comes complete with a 9-page teachers guide with ideas on how the quiz can be used in class. A word of reminder: the quiz is not meant to test your students' general knowledge but to expand their vocabulary.

Over the years I've begun to feel that every year my quiz contains the same language such as cause controversy, got into hot water, battle with drug addiction, came to an abrupt end to describe politicians' faux pas and celebrity deaths that occur with unwavering regularity every year. So this year, a slew of new lexical chunks make their debut in the quiz: quirky sense of humour, eligible bachelor and ruffle feathers to name but a fewSee for yourself.

Dec 19, 2014

Closely connected

Photo by Sudhamshu Hebbar on Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
An article written by the British linguist Vyvyan Evans entitled “Language Instinct is a Myth” which I shared on Twitter the other day triggered a lively discussion with my colleagues. One of the questions raised on Twitter was how come the idea that we are born with a built-in language capacity (aka the innateness hypothesis) has prevailed for so long and Chomsky, its main promoter, is part of all Master's in TESOL programmes if the theory has largely been discredited (Scott Thornbury asks the same question on his in X is for X-bar Theory).

Nov 29, 2014

Learners' use of collocations: insights from the research 2

"Perform surgery" or "carry out surgery"?
Photo by Austin Samaritans via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.O]
What kind of collocations are most mistake-prone:
strong (e.g. honk the horn, shrug shoulders), medium-strong (e.g. wage a war, fail a test), medium-weak (e.g. perform an experiment, reach a compromise) or weak (e.g. see a film, read the newspaper)?

Oct 31, 2014

On (and off) the wall vocabulary activities

I often make students (and teachers I work with) get out of their seats. I think movement in the classroom is important whether you believe in the now hotly debated concept of learning styles or because cognition is embodied. Apart from onion ring debates and mingling activities, there are many movement activities you can do using classroom walls.

Oct 5, 2014

Not a word was spoken (but many were learned)

Video is often used in the EFL classroom for listening comprehension activities, facilitating discussions and, of course, language work. But how can you exploit silent films without any language in them? Since developing learners' linguistic resources should be our primary goal (well, at least the blogger behind the blog thinks so), here are four suggestions on how language (grammar and vocabulary) can be generated from silent clips.